A man who takes one acetaminophen tablet each day for at least five years has a 38% lower chance of developing prostate cancer compared to other men, researchers from the American Cancer Society reported in Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention. The authors add that theirs is one of two studies that looked into the consequences of regular acetaminophen use over the long term.
As background information, the researchers wrote that the use of NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), such as aspirin over the long-term have been linked to a slight reduction in prostate cancer risk. Although acetaminophen is not traditionally seen as an NSAID, it is an anti-inflammatory as well as an analgesic.
Eric Jacobs, Ph.D., and team set out to determine whether regular acetaminophen use might impact on prostate cancer rates. They gathered data on 78,485 adult males in the Cancer Prevention Study II Cohort. When they enrolled in 1992 they completed a questionnaire which included self-reported details on acetaminophen use. The data was updated in 1997 and every two years after that.
They identified 8,092 cases of prostate cancer during the 1992-2007 follow-up. Those on at least 30 acetaminophen tablets per month for five years or more were found to have a lower risk of developing prostate cancer, as well as aggressive prostate cancer. They found no benefit among those on acetaminophen for less than five years.
Dr. Jacobs said:
"While the results of this observational study suggest that long-term regular acetaminophen use may be associated with lower prostate cancer risk, our findings require replication by other studies, and do not justify use of acetaminophen to prevent prostate cancer. Acetaminophen is considered relatively safe when used at recommended doses but unintentional acetaminophen overdose is an important cause of acute liver failure. Still, results of this study could lead to further research on acetaminophen that might provide biological insights about the process of prostate cancer development and how this process could be slowed."
"A Large Cohort Study of Long-term Acetaminophen Use and Prostate Cancer Incidence."
Eric J Jacobs, Christina C Newton, Victoria L Stevens, and Susan M Gapstur
Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev May 17, 2011 cebp.0210.2011; Published OnlineFirst May 17, 2011; doi:10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-11-0210
Written by Christian Nordqvist